Japan is a country rich in pop culture, which has spread all around the world and had a big influence. Popular culture changes quickly and drastically, but who are the biggest icons from Japanese Pop Culture in recent years? Here is our Top 5!
1. ハローキティ - Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty, also known as Kitī-chan in Japanese, is one of the major characters in Japan, and a symbol of “Cute” culture. Hardcore fans of Kitty are called kitirā (キティラー). Hello Kitty is popular overseas as well. For example, celebrities like Paris Hilton, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are known to be enthusiastic Kitty fans.
AKB48 is currently the most popular idol group in Japan, and known for the fact that they have many overseas fans as well. Working from the concept of “idols whose fans can meet and greet”, they have live performances at their own theater, or handshake sessions as part of their service to their fans. AKB was the first female idol group in Japan to adopt a general election system to decide on its members.
3. 初音ミク - Hatsune Miku
Many people may think of Hatsune Miku as a character with green twin ponytails. Hatsune Miku has been recognized as one of the most famous characters in the world, but the name was originally used for a synthetic vocal sound source. When they created a character of a virtual reality idol for the sound source so that it would be more realistic, it became a big hit across Japan. And not only did it become popular in the country, but it has also gained a big reputation overseas, and even performed in the first part of one of Lady Gaga’s concerts.
4. きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a fashion icon of the Kawaii (かわいい, “cute”) style, which is highly regarded overseas, and has gone on multiple word tours. She has also been chosen as the “Harajuku Kawaii Ambassador” (Harajuku kawaii taishi, 原宿カワイイ大使) based in Harajuku, which is the center of Japanese pop culture. Although she started her career as a fashion model in Japan, she has become well-known as a singer since her first single Tsukematukeru (つけまつける) was a big hit.
5. ポケモン - Pokemon
Pocket Monsters – also known as Pokemon – have captured the hearts of children, not only in Japan, but also around the world. It all started from game software for Game Boy which was released by Nintendo in 1996. The game was so popular among both boys and girls that it became one of the biggest megahits in the Japanese game industry. This year Pokemon celebrated its 20th anniversary with a 5 million dollar commercial.
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